Entries Tagged 'Terrorism' ↓

My Goodness: Are Pop Rocks Next On the Airlines’ Restricted Items List?

Here’s a question for travelers in our security-minded era: Should the TSA put Pop Rocks, above—the fizzy, crumbly, kids candy from the ’70s—on its air travel prohibited items list?

I ask because it’s long been known what happens to the human digestive system when you swallow Pop Rocks, then mix it with Coca-Cola, a drink available on every commercial flight: Your stomach explodes!

The effect on the individual is, obviously, catastrophic. As for the craft’s airframe, well, suppose this were to happen while flying over the Pacific, right?

Heh, heh. Of course, it’s nonsense, the idea that these two substances, when combined, detonate. It’s a 30-year-old, urban myth. But, as every parent knows, kids have lots of questions about how our bodies are affected by all kinds of phenomena, and why we work as we do.

Andrea and Julia Ditkoff sure did. For example, they wanted to know:

Why do you get a headache when you eat ice cream too quickly?

What’s that small, dewdrop-shaped thing in the back of your throat?

Why do people hiccup?

…not to mention the query which forms the title of their mother’s book, Why Don’t Your Eyelashes Grow?: Curious Questions Kids Ask About the Human Body, right, by Dr. Beth Ann Ditkoff.

In fact, they came up with all the interrogatives Dr. Ditkoff uses in her text. She thought her daughters’ inquiries were, indeed, provocative, but commonplace. Other children, and other adults, would want to hear the answers, also.

They will: Dr. Ditkoff is the guest today on a repeat edition of my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, June 18, at 2 pm ET.

You can listen to this thoughtful writer / physician’s ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

When DAM Breaks, the Sound of Palestinian Freedom Gets Unleashed.

Palestinian hip-hop trio DAM, above, wield the power of hip-hop as a force against the Israeli occupation of their homeland—the world’s longest—and their minds as well.

Formed in 1998 by brothers Suhell and Tamer Nafar, center and right (friend Mahmoud Jreri, left, was added later), they initially sought to make party records that would earn them cool points with peers and the ladies. Then it was still “just for fun,” says Tamer. They completed a six-track EP titled Stop Selling Drugs, the first time any Palestinian had ever recorded rap music.

What politicized them, however, was the Second Intifada of 2000…and the music of 2Pac. As Tamer poignantly told me, for my March 2008 piece in VIBE, “Straight Outta Palestine,”

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My Hero.


“A Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give. When the white man who is always the aggressor knows he runs as great risk of biting the dust every time his Afro-American victim does, he will have greater respect for Afro-American life.”

If Ida Bell Wells (1862-1931), above, had never written another word in her entire life, she would have been the object of my supreme ancestral regard merely for those sixty, above. Composed when she was about thirty years of age, the text, from her 1892 pamphlet, Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases, still simmers over a hundred years later with the nostril-burning scent of bitter defiance.

Keep in mind, however, that Wells was not describing some kind of abstract notion of a second amendment embrace, but penning her ideas when there was a literal price on her head. The definitive leader of her era in a wildly underpowered crusade against the lynching of Black people, Wells and her jagged prose sent entitled racists into spasms. Documenting their morbid outrages as a journalist, she inevitably had to leave for the North, merely to keep from becoming another prized lynching victim herself.

I read her words for the first time in the mid ’80s, in college, in a book titled When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America, by Paula J. Giddings. At the time, South Africa was raging. Black New Yorker’s were being killed, seemingly with wanton disregard, by New York City police while an indifferent mayor, Ed Koch, wagged his finger at us.

I was looking for a functional political position that made humanitarian sense, but that had some teeth in it. Needless to say, Wells not only fit the bill, but lit my brain up, and sent me back to the stacks. There, I learned that Black radicalism was not new or recent, but a legacy response to racism.

paula-giddings-headshotNeedless to say, Wells changed my life, but not as much as she did Giddings’, right. Indeed, the Elizabeth A. Woodson 1922 Professor in Afro-American Studies at Smith College says that, even with the abundance of astounding characters in her book, Ida kept speaking to her, from the mists of history, beckoning for a volume of her own.

As my mother always said, listen to your elders. Giddings’ follow-up to When and WhereIda: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching—is a masterful, 800-plus page tome that, no doubt, will be the definitive record of Wells’ life and work for decades.

Paula J. Giddings is my hero, too, and the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, January 1, at 2 pm ET. Indeed, our conversation was so rich and bountiful it wouldn’t fit into one broadcast. Look out for the second part, soon, on a future date.

For now, you can hear Part I by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.



Beer, Chips, and Terrorism To Go.


That’s designer Ryan Waller‘s smart-behind entry, right, to the New York Times’ “Help Put A New Face on Freedom,” One World Trade Center logo design contest. Asked what it meant, the artist cryptically replied, “The design says everything (and it should say multiple things at the same time).”

So, I’ll take a stab at it: Stores in the 7-11 convenience chain are often run by Middle Eastern people, of the variety many Americans broadly hold responsible for the September 2001 catastrophe, hence the allusive smear. As well, the opening within the “9” portrays the abstracted shape of a banking jetliner, rushing toward the viewer head-on, a la United Airlines Flight 175’s widely videotaped crash into the Center’s South Tower. All of which faintly suggest that Waller, and possibly someone at The New York Times, is an absurdist, a racist, or both.

“First, They Wet My Face / Now I’m a Believer / Didn’t Leave a Trace / Of Doubt in My Mind.”

Gurgle, gurgle, gurgle: Christopher Hitchens gets inarticulate

While perhaps not exactly an advocate for waterboarding, journalist / pro cynic Christopher Hitchens has certainly been seen as an apologist for the highly debated technique of “information extraction.”

But no one would accuse Hitchens of being uncurious. So, when Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter asked him if he’d like to be waterboarded, then live to tell about it, the doughy, two-pack-a-day smoker leaped at the chance.

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And That Cup is Packed with C-4: Rachael Ray’s Keffiyeh Controversy

“I’m taking the whole donut shop with me me!!”
“Is that a fashionable scarf, or are you just happy to terrorize me?”: Rachael Ray, meet Yasser Arafat, late head of the PLO

Late last week, Good Morning America took on the the tempest-in-a-thimble over Rachael Ray’s scarf, doing so, actually, sensibly.

Conservative bloggers had raised the the charge that Ray’s scarf, in the print ad, above, was a keffiyeh. This, “for the clueless,” as screechy Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin warmly explained on her web site,

is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad. Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant (and not so ignorant) fashion designers, celebrities and left-wing icons.”

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Would You Wash bin Laden’s Feet?

Servant to the World

Would you wash the feet of Saudi terrorist, supposed Al Qaeda founder, and alleged 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden?

That’s the question implicit in the above piece of Christian art titled Servant to the World. Created by artist Lars Justinen, the image depicts Jesus Christ, dressed in the manner described in his Last Supper of John 13, washing the feet of prominent world leaders: Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, former British PM Tony Blair, Manmohan Singh, prime minister of India. In His hands is the right foot of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

In the implied sequence, bin Laden is next. He’s seated beside George Bush, President of the United States, the very man who has promised to hunt him down.

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Stand Up Straight, Look at the Camera, and Say “Cheese.”

On The Courthouse lawn cover photo

An estimated 5,000 Black human beings were lynched in the United States between the years 1890 and 1960. By averages, that’s one African-American dying horribly, in racist mob violence, every five days for seventy years. In almost all of these cases, no one was ever charged for the crimes. So affirms the guest on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, April 25, 2 pm ET.

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3,990 Dead. 29,395 Wounded. $500 Billion Spent. $2.5 Trillion To Go. Happy Iraq 5th Anniversary, America.

Dead Soldiers

People always get the leadership they deserve.